Apex 55, Cary 44

Apex boys' basketball uses defense to take down Cary

mblake@newsobserver.comJanuary 24, 2013 

— Apex point guard T.J. Wells and his teammates haven’t panicked when the Cougars – usually one of the area’s top-shooting teams – haven’t found the mark as often.

The Cougars have shifted their attention to the other side of the court, and as a result, it has sparked their offense even more.

It worked Wednesday night when the Cougars pulled away from host Cary in the fourth quarter for a comfortable 55-44 victory. Last week the Cougars closed out a win at Lee County with a 26-3 run in much the same fashion.

“The shots haven’t been falling. Shots didn’t fall at Lee County and they didn’t fall here in the first half, really,” Wells said. “So when the shots aren’t falling, you really have to focus on (defense). And I hope my team can focus on (defense) all the time. Then it’ll be real tough for anyone to beat us.”

Apex (10-7, 8-2) forced 13 steals against Cary (3-16, 2-8) for the game.

The Cougars limited the Imps to 1-of-11 shooting to start the contest, then held them to 3-of-9 shooting for the fourth quarter.

“They made some unforced turnovers,” Well said. “We got our hands on the ball but they were the ones who made the mistake, and that’s because we played solid defense.”

Cary worked the offensive glass and boxed out Apex on the defensive boards in the second quarter, and by doing so took a short lead before entering halftime tied at 25.

Apex, which had struggled to rebound against taller teams, corrected its positioning in the second half, thanks in part to reserve center Jon Jones, a sophomore.

Jones, who transferred in from Texas but sat out the first half of the season, is the Cougars’ tallest player at 6-foot-6.

“Jon is almost offering something that we wouldn’t have otherwise, and that’s a huge body, a shot-blocker, a rebounder and a good finisher when we give him the ball in the right places,” Well said.

Apex is tied for second in the Tri-9 Conference with Lee County and Green Hope, and is only a game behind Middle Creek.

Cary, which is in seventh, has been more competitive since the holiday break. The Imps are 2-4 so far in 2013, but have an overtime loss to fifth-place Panther Creek and trailed Apex by just 40-35 entering the fourth quarter.

“We had one stretch of 2012 Cary Imp basketball, and that’s all that Apex needed to seize upon to take the game,” Cary coach Allan Gustafson said. “We’ve gotten better throughout the season, which pleases me. We’ve been able to get ourselves in position to win games.”

Junior T.J. Evans led Apex with 17 points, while sophomore Ian Boyd had 16. Cary’s C.J. Lyon led all scorers with 21, which included four 3-pointers.

Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter.com/JMBpreps

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